Category Archives: Recycling

How, what, when, where to recycle a variety of items as well as those that aren’t recyclable (but should be).

Worm Composting: Preparing the Worm Bin

How do you recycle your food waste? Or do you?

If you’ve been sending your veggie scraps, leftover spaghetti and moldy food to the garbage disposal, there’s another option – a worm bin or worm compost.

Worm bins do not smell (as long as you maintain it properly), can reduce your garbage by as much as 20 percent and the fertilizer produced is purely organic, which is great for indoor and outdoor plants.

You can buy a worm composter on Amazon, your local home improvement store or make one yourself from plastic totes. The retail version usually comes with 3 composting bins, and a bottom collection bin for excess  moisture. The bottom bin has a spigot, so you can use the fertilized water or “worm tea” to water your plants. This organic liquid is much better than those that you buy at home improvement stores because you know there isn’t any other chemicals in it, and your plants know too.

The retail version also contains a “starter kit” complete with fibrous bedding (shredded newsprint), core (shredded coconut husks), pumice stone, and detailed instructions how to initially setup your worm bin along with helpful hints to maintain it. The worms must be purchased separately. I highly suggest you purchase the worms from a reputable and local resource. I live in Ohio, so I bought mine from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm in Michigan. Worms arrive LIVE and within a day or two after you order them, DO NOT allow them to sit outside; otherwise, you might have dead worms! These are NOT earthworms, they are RED WRIGGLERS, a smaller breed that help break down your food scraps. Start small, you do not need 3000 worms if you’re just beginning a worm bin. They will MULTIPLY quickly!

Tips before you order your worms:

  • Setup your worm bin first – follow the steps below or the directions included with the worm bin. You may use the worm bin indoors (I have mine in the kitchen) such as in the basement or an attached garage or outdoors if your climate remains temperate year-round. Worms need a consistent temperature between 50 and about 75 degrees (you don’t want them to freeze or burn or become too dry).
  • Be ready to “feed” the worms upon arrival. Worms need about 1/4 pound of food per day to be effective (but less initially when introduced to a new environment).
  • Make sure you are home when the worms are due to arrive.
  • Although instructions say you can add cereal boxes and paper towel rolls to the worm bin, I discovered this is not a good practice if you have the worm bin indoors. Evidently tiny worms are in the cardboard, and you’ll produce gnats if you add the cardboard to the bin (yuck!).

Preparing the first worm bin for the red wrigglers:

1. Layer 1: Soak layers of newspaper (printed is fine, better to use the black and white print rather than the color inserts for the first bin. Squeeze out excess water and lay this in the bottom of the bin (with the holes).

2. Add a mixture of core (included with your worm bin, it’s coconut husk), pumice stone (also included with your worm bin), and either soil, leaves (from yard, but without chemicals) strips of moist newspaper or eggshells. I used paper from my shredder soaked in water for moisture, and egg shells. Worms need moisture to decompose food through their skin because they have no mouths. Note: If you’re adding another bin, you’ll want to leave the holes accessible so they can move upward to the next layer of food and bedding. So omit the layer of newspaper at the bottom.

worm-composter-bedding
The first layer, a mixture of core, pumice stone and shredded paper (moistened). Enough to cover the bottom of the bin.

3. After the bedding is a layer of food. Note: Do not add food until your worms arrive; otherwise, you’ll have bugs flying around! I used some leftover pasta with cabbage and carrots from the frig. It’s best to use food that has been refrigerated or frozen (but defrost first) to reduce infestations of insects that live on the skins of fresh veggies and fruit. Keep the food in a thin layer and put in a different section of the bin.

worm bin composting
Add a layer of food on top of the bedding.

4. Add another layer of moist newsprint, enough to completely cover the inside of the bin. It’s okay for the layers to overlap. Worms do not like light, so they will burrow under the top layer of newspaper. Worms also use the newspaper as food if other food has been decomposed. Hence, worms can survive in this environment for weeks without your food scraps.

worm-bin-setup-step-3
Layer soaked newspaper on top of food scraps.
worm-bin-setup-4
Completely cover the inside of the worm bin with moist newspaper.

Put the lid over the newspaper layer. Now you’re ready to order your worms.

5. Add worms: When your worms arrive, read the instructions for adding them to their new environment. You’ll want to “peel back” the soaked top layer of the newsprint and add the worms here. Cover the worms with the newsprint again and allow them to adapt to their new environment for a couple days undisturbed.

What questions do you have about composting with worms? Ask them below!

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#Recycling: Reusing Dryer Sheets

Originally posted on RecycleBank.com by Sebrina Zerkus Smith.

Do you use dryer sheets to soften your clothes and reduce static cling? These are not usually biodegradable, but you can reuse these sheets for many other household uses. And if you don’t use dryer sheets, great for you because they can be replaced by using vinegar in the wash or on an old towel in the dryer without clogging your dryer duct.

  • Keep some used dryer sheets in a container in your car for wiping the dashboard. Place one under the driver side seat to give it that new car smell.
  • Use one to smooth your hair and prevent winter fly-aways.
  • Use them for cleaning bug splats from your windshield. Just wet one or more softener sheets and wipe over splats. Wait a couple minutes, wipe again and then flush with water.
  • Use on grill, headlights, side mirrors and any other surfaces.
  • Place used dryer sheets in the bottom of your trash can before you add the new bag, It will absorb any drips or leaks and leave the can smelling fresh. This works especially well if you use paper grocery bags in your can, which tend to leak easily.
  • Place a used dryer sheet near the trashcan at your next barbecue or picnic; it will repel bees and flies. Also, wipe one over your arms and legs to repel mosquitoes.
  • Soften the soles of your feet by soaking your feet in some warm water and rubbing them with a used fabric softener sheet.
  • Place a used fabric softener sheet inside your vacuum bag next time you change it to freshen as you clean.
  • Place them in the rafters of your home to keep spiders and other bugs from nesting.
  • They’re great for removing stuck on foods from your pots and pans. Fill the grimy pan with water and drop the sheet inside. – – Let soak for about an hour and wash as usual.
  • Use old dryer sheets to easily wipe up messes like talcum powder and flour.
  • Use old dryer sheets in the bottom of flowerpots to cover the drainage holes.
  • Stuff them in and around any place that needs freshening like tennis shoes, closets, laundry hampers, luggage and dresser drawers. Tuck one in your pillow and sleep on a fresh scent every night.
  • Use them instead of paper when doing ‘paper piecing’ for quilts. First ironed them smooth, then trace your pattern onto the dryer sheets. They’re lightweight, don’t add bulk to your quilt & they smell great.
  • Use them to remove pet hair from your clothes and furniture.
  • Run a sheet over a piece of thread before you thread the needle when sewing. The thread will glide through the eye and won’t tangle when sewing.
  • Rid your house of unwanted pests. Find any place where pests like mice are entering your house and stuff the hole shut with used sheets.
  • Use them to remove soap scum on your glass shower door, or use to wipe windows when cleaning.
  • Used dryer sheets make great dusting cloths for your wooden furniture.
  • Use just like you would a Swiffer sheet on your floors to pick up dust and pet hair.
  • If your scissors are dull and not cutting as smoothly as they should, wiping them with a used dryer sheet will remedy the problem.

Which of these are you more likely to reuse dryer sheets? I especially like the car uses and removing pet hair from clothes.

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Recycle 6 Pack Plastic Rings into Useful Tote

I am looking for directions how to make a bag out of 6 pack plastic rings like those on soda and beer. I know I have seen someone do this, but can’t remember what is used to hold the rings together and how to make the handle.

If you have a link or directions, I’d appreciate it…I will post here so my readers can use it too.

Don’t want have the creative flair to make a recycled craft from plastic soda rings? Then do be kind to animals, and cut through all the circles to prevent turtles and other animals from becoming caught in them or thinking they are food and choking them. See a video here about deformed turtles caught in plastic rings.

In the meantime, I came across a few helpful recycled craft links.

My suggestions for recycled crafts – recycle it, don’t trash it!

My Recycled Bags

Ways to Reuse Plastic Rings from eHow

6 Pack Ring Chandeliers and Snowflakes from Pakit Products

 

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